Does Assassins Creed break the long-standing tradition of bad video game movie adaptations? Check out our review of Assassins Creed.
When I think of video game movie adaptations they usually tend fall into two main categories, either they are completely ridiculous and fail to understand the source material or there just decent film adaptations. When it was first announced that Justin Kurzel was directing the Assassins Creed movie I was optimistic being that his Macbeth adaptation was an amazing film overall. Unfortunately the Assassins Creed film fails in many of the aspects that make the game series so great. Where the film goes wrong is on its dedication to the animus plotline and its insistence on focusing on the present as opposed to the historical setting of the Spanish Inquisition. I really wanted to like this film and hoped that we would finally see a decent film based on a video game, but unfortunately the Assassins Creed film isn’t great and just maintains the status quo that has plagued video game movies throughout the years.
Story and Characters
The story in Assassins Creed follows Callum Lynch played by Michael Fassbender who has spent his life primarily as a career criminal. Because of his troubled past and criminal endeavors, he is ultimately sentenced to death in a Texas Penitentiary. Eventually he is rescued by Sophia Rikkin played by Marion Cotillard who is a head scientist at the Abstergo foundation. This sets forth a chain of events that leads Callum to travel back to 1492 to live as one of his assassin ancestors during the Spanish Inquisition. The story itself is good overall but not enough time is spent during the Spanish Inquisition and the present-day storyline only convolutes the overall structure of the narrative. I don’t understand why the director and writers chose to focus so much on the present day being that the best parts of the film were the Spanish Inquisition scenes. This is nothing new to the series and I personally wish that Ubisoft would completely drop the animus storyline and focus more on the historical settings and historical figures that the assassins interact with. Another downfall for the film is the lack of historical figures and character development for the past assassins. There is one scene towards the end of the film that implements a relevant historical figure but they are only in the film for a few seconds. There was some development for some of the supporting characters and prisoners of Abstergo but I would have liked to learn more about the characters and setting of the Spanish Inquisition. Another main character presented in the film was Alan Rikken played by Jeremy Irons. Alan acts as the main antagonist in the film and in my opinion falls flat as the films overall central villain. The story and character in Assassins Creed are decent, but the focus on present day tends to make for an overall boring and convoluted plot.
Presentation and Cinematography
The Cinematography in Assassins Creed is fantastic and one of the redeeming qualities of this film. The actual scenes during the Spanish Inquisition are great and the art direction and costume design is spot on compared to the game series. The choreography for the fight scenes and some of the parkour sections are also both excellent and I only wish there was more action and focus on combat and the free running sections, being that it is so prevalent in the game series. The lighting and wide shots used in Assassins Creed are good and the locales presented in the film are awesome. I also appreciated the way Spain is depicted and the fact that the characters were not speaking English really adds to the overall immersion of the film. My only problem with the presentation of Assassins Creed is the depiction of Abstergo. The giant arm that Callum hangs from while synchronizing with his assassin ancestor felt odd and almost to matrix esque as opposed to the traditional Assassin’s Creed Abstergo depiction. Overall, I felt that the artistic direction of the film was good although there wasn’t enough emphasis placed on the interesting and unique historical period.
Score and Sound Design
The score and sound design in Assassins Creed is good and the music fits well into the style of the film and universe of the series. I would have liked to see more callbacks to the game series such as the implementation of songs such as Ezio’s family which is present in Assassins Creed 2, but otherwise the music was relatively good. The sound design for the various weapons used during the fight scenes were also good and felt realistic and appropriate for the time period being depicted.
Going into Assassins Creed I really expected to enjoy the film being that Macbeth was such an amazing movie. Seeing the trailers and realizing that most of the film was set in present day had me worried at first but I had faith that Justin Kurzel would knock it out of the park. Unfortunately, Assassins Creed is just another video game film adaptation that fails to adhere to the source material it is representing and it really shows in the polish of the film. If you are a fan of the game series and are looking for more stories in the universe I have a hard time recommending this film. However, if you are interested in the choreography and cinematography of the film then this might be a movie worth considering.